According to a new study, and others to back it up, most workers support having a union in their workplace.
“More and more, workers are fed up with the status quo,” said International President Lonnie R. Stephenson. “And those workers are finding that joining together in union is the best way to go in order to truly have a voice on the job.”
Unions seem to be having a moment, albeit a mixed bag of one. While union membership rates remain at a multi-decade low, a recent CNBC-Momentive survey found that 59% of workers across the U.S. support increased unionization efforts at their jobs. It further reported that 46% of workers say that labor unions are mostly good for working people, more than twice the number who say they’re mostly bad. The survey also found that, while Democrats were about twice as likely to have a positive view of unions as Republicans, close to half of GOP voters say they support increased unionization.
“This really isn’t the partisan issue that many assume,” said Laura Wronski, senior manager of research science at Momentive, to CNBC.
The CNBC-Momentive study is the latest in a string of studies and news stories about working people joining together at work. Recent findings from Pew and Gallup also showed increased support for organized labor. Gallup’s poll from September 2021 measured 68% support for unions, the highest it’s been since 1965.
Taking a different angle on the issue, Pew found earlier this year that 58% of U.S. adults say the large reduction over the past several decades in the percentage of workers represented by unions has been bad for the country. And another Pew survey from 2021 found that 55% of U.S. adults say labor unions have a positive effect on the way things are going in the country.
Furthermore, a recent report from the Economic Policy Institute found that unions don’t just help their members with pay and benefits, they help communities as a whole, and even support democracy.
“In the same way unions give workers a voice at work, with a direct impact on wages and working conditions, the data suggest that unions also give workers a voice in shaping their communities. Where workers have this power, states have more equitable economic structures, social structures and democracies,” the authors wrote.
All of this comes at a time when workers across industries are pushing for more rights at work. From Starbucks baristas to Amazon warehouse workers to big tech employees, people are speaking up and doing the hard work of organizing. In fact, during the first nine months of fiscal year 2022 (which runs from October 1 through June 30), union representation petitions filed at the National Labor Relations Board increased 58%. And by May 25 of this year, petitions exceeded the total number filed in all of 2021. At the same time, perhaps unsurprisingly, unfair labor practice charges have also increased 16%—from 11,082 to 12,819.
“As exciting as the public opinion shift is towards unionizing, the challenges remain the same. The employer’s playbook continues to be effective. They use the fear of the unknown to influence their workforce,” said IBEW Director of Professional & Industrial Organizing Jennifer Gray. “Our No. 1 job is to prepare the workers and keep them focused on the goal. Where we are able to do this – we win.”
Much of this new organizing is also being done by young workers. ABC News reported that, between 2019 and 2021, the overall percentage of U.S. union members stayed flat but the percentage of workers aged 25-34 who are members rose by 68,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
ABC News also spoke to Derrick Pointer, a lineman and Tallassee, Ala., Local 904 member. Pointer wasn’t sure he wanted to join the union at first, but decided to do so to take advantage of the training it offered. Now he makes just over $42 an hour and has generous benefits, including COVID sick leave. The amount he pays in dues is well worth it, he said.
“More and more working people are discovering what our members already know, that the union is worth every penny,” Stephenson said. “From livable wages to being able to give back to your community, unions make the middle class stronger, and that benefits everyone.”